GLENVIEW — At first glance, Glenbrook South senior Breck Murphy’s biggest strength on the tennis court isn’t immediately apparent. She doesn’t have a huge serve, overwhelming power, exceptional speed or a dominant net game.
She’s just consistent.
“Human backboard is what I like to call her,” Glenbrook South coach Stephanie Mats said. “She annoys the other players.”
To watch Murphy play is to watch somebody who’s seemingly unaffected by the score of the match, set and game. The Titans’ No. 2 singles player has a steady demeanor, which carries over to her shots — a looping forehand, a flat two-handed backhand.
“I try to be consistent as possible,” Murphy said. If trailing in a match, “I’ll change my strategy a little bit, in terms of where I’ll place the ball, but I typically try to keep it consistent and for the most part it works out.”
Glenbrook North sophomore Danielle Sokol added: “She doesn’t change her strokes ever.”
Sokol played against Murphy on Sept. 11, and Sokol won the first set 6-3. Murphy responded by hitting with the same pace to start the second set, while Sokol started to hit a little harder.
Murphy jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start the second set by going up a break. Sokol, who plays a similar style to Murphy’s, was able to rally and win the match in a second-set tiebreaker. The key to playing against someone who’s good at limiting her unforced errors, Sokol said after the match, is to try to move her on the court.
“If you don’t move them around, the ball will always come back to you,” Sokol said. “It’ll always be in play, the points will be long and [she] will tire you out.”
Murphy’s style of play can be physically tiring for opponents — there were several rallies of more than 40 shots in her match against Sokol, including one that eclipsed 60 — but it also has worn on her. Murphy developed a rotator cuff injury as a result of overuse during her sophomore year, she said, and it bothered her a little bit as a junior. That was a reason why she played doubles for the Titans as a junior.
Murphy continues to ice her shoulder as a preventative measure and stretches it often. She said that although her shoulder feels good now, she knows if she keeps playing so many long points, her shoulder will hinder her quest to quality for the state tournament for the first time.
“I have been working on trying to end points sooner just because of my shoulder,” Murphy said. “If I play matches like [the one against Sokol] every week, something’s going to happen with it again. I have been trying to be more aggressive. … As the matches continue, hopefully I’ll work on that skill and be able to take it to state.”